Spending 5 minutes on basic graphics has an immediate ROI.

The way we convey information is just as important as the information being conveyed.  Thinking about how it is displayed and interpreted is critical to the communication process.  Without good communication a great result can be turned into something bad.  Without good information conveyance there is a good chance at pure confusion.

Many people think of graphic design and infographics these days when the conversation turns to making presentations.  The truth is that this is often overkill.  You don’t have to spend hours and days on graphics to communicate your ideas.  The reality is that you just need to have a few go to display mechanics that you are comfortable with and can roll out as needed.  Do the basics:

  • Find 4 colors that work for you (avoid red) and consistently color your charts and tables the same way.  People use color as a guide from page to page, changing colors unnecessarily can lead to confusion.
  • Use the align function.  Make sure your boxes are level, the same height, same width and spaced correctly.  Any perfectionist in the crowd will be immediately thrown off the information if you don’t make it look decent.
  • Minimize the text.  If you don’t need to explicitly say something on paper, then save it for the conversation.  The more you write, the more people read and tune out your words.  Keep it short and simple unless you are creating a document meant to be read – and if that is the case don’t present from it.
  • Be consistent with fonts and font sizes.  Headers should be the same size and location.  Text fonts should be consistent.  Inconsistencies point to possible discrepancies or areas that weren’t “brought together.”  The more consistency you have the more people will focus on the content.

If you take 5 minutes on every presentation to do the four things above you will find things go easier and smoother.  It’s not hard, it just takes practice.  And anyone can do it.